Another type of solo training ride takes place in the basement during the dark days of winter when the roads are impassable and the weather deplorable. This ride takes place on the indoor trainer. Ordinary people call it a stationary bicycle. Many Roadies call it torture. There are two basic designs: rollers and wind trainers. Neither one is fun to ride. A roller system is like a treadmill for bikes. It consists of three cylindrical drums (each about the size of a rolling pin) attached to a metal frame. The bike is placed on the drums. The drums turn when the bike’s wheels turn. It’s a simple device, and it closely replicates the motion of bike riding. Riding on rollers requires a certain degree of balance and concentration. It’s easy to drift too far to the left or right and suddenly find yourself hurtling across your basement. Proper concentration is a must. Wind trainers are more stationary. The rear end of the bike is affixed to a metal bracket and held in a rigid upright position. The bike’s rear tire makes contact with a single small cylinder attached to a turbo fan. As the cylinder turns faster, a great load is created by the device, increasing the resistance for the rider. There is very little about this system that feels natural.
Roadies generally have a love-hate relationship with indoor training systems. I don’t know of any riders who like them, yet I don’t know of any who don’t own one. Few riders can last more than thirty minutes on such a system without going mad. But since their winter fitness depends on their dedication to riding on this device, they push themselves to ride as much as possible.
The trouble with trainers is that they are mind-numbingly boring. Despite the technological advancements that allow the device to interface with a computer, thus adding virtual reality to the training session, trainers remain a necessary evil. They provide the mechanics and motion of cycling without the pleasurable aspects.
Roadie: The Misunderstood World of a Bike Racer is a light-hearted exploration of the world of road cycling, bike racing, and the people who love it. Good for belly laughs from veteran roadies and perfect for those puzzled by their road cyclist friends, Roadie explains all the curiosities of the sport of cycling so you don’t have to! From shaved legs to Lycra kits to how stage races work, author Jamie Smith and nationally syndicated Frazz illustrator Jef Mallett celebrate cycling and poke fun in equal measure.